The checkups you need at every age

Getting a checkup is not what it used to be. Twenty years ago, people had an annual head-to-toe physical exam that included tests and screenings, no matter their age. Now, because of advances in medical technology and patient research and changes in health insurance laws, an annual physical may not be necessary. Instead, a simple “wellness visit” with your primary care provider (PCP) to review your overall health every few years may be all you need. The frequency with which these health maintenance visits might occur is usually stated in your health insurance benefit design.

What people call these checkups can vary, depending on your doctor. This exam can be a wellness visit, a physical, or both. Speak with your healthcare clinician about the right method of screening for you.

In your 20s and 30s:

Women and Men

  • Schedule a visit with your PCP for any recommended screenings: blood pressure, diet and weight, vision and hearing, activity level and any medications taken. The visit should also update your immunizations.
  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends routine screening for cholesterol and lipid disorders in younger adults (men aged 20 to 35 years and women aged 20 to 45 years) if they have other risk factors for coronary heart disease. Ask your PCP if this is right for you.
  • Make a yearly appointment with your PCP or a dermatologist (as appropriate) for a head-to-toe skin exam.
  • Visit your dentist twice yearly for cleanings or more often if you are at a higher risk of dental disease.

Women only

  • Schedule a regular visit to the gynecologist or PCP for routine tests such as a pelvic exam, HPV test and Pap test. The frequency of such visits may vary from one to three years based on your individual health history.

In your 40s and 50s:

Women and Men

  • Schedule a visit with your PCP for any recommended screenings: blood pressure, diet and weight, vision and hearing, activity level and any medications taken.
  • Stay up-to-date on all immunizations.
  • Screenings for colorectal cancer should begin at age 50, or earlier if there is a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or a family history of colorectal cancer.
  • Get tested for diabetes if you are overweight or obese or if you have a family history of diabetes.

Women only

  • The USPSTF recommends that women ages 50-74 years schedule a mammogram every other year. The decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography before the age of 50 years should be an individual one. Consult with your PCP.

In your 60s and beyond:

Women and Men

  • Schedule a preventive visit every year once you are 65 to screen for new medical conditions and any memory problems.
  • Consider regular vision exams as well as hearing testing if you or others around you feel your hearing is declining. Those with known issues (such as diabetes) may need more frequent testing.

Women only

  • Women over 65 who have had normal screenings and do not have a high risk for cervical cancer do not need Pap tests. Talk with your doctor about the schedule that is best for you.
  • Women over 65 should be screened for osteoporosis

If you need a doctor, but don’t know where to start, consider YNHH’s free referral line. Call 888-700-6543 use our Find a Doctor feature online for information on physician specialties, office hours and locations as well as insurance plans accepted.

Keep that weight-loss resolution in 2020

If you're looking to turn over a new leaf in 2020, you're not alone. Each year, roughly one in three Americans resolve to lose weight. The fact that losing weight is among the most popular resolutions suggests just how difficult it can be.

When being overweight reaches the stage where it affects your health, it is considered "morbid" or disease-causing obesity. Obesity isn't simply a result of overeating. There are many contributing factors such as genetics, heredity, environment, metabolic factors and eating disorders. Certain medical conditions, like hypothyroidism, may result in obesity.

Weight-loss surgery has been shown to be an effective treatment for morbid obesity. Both the procedure and the required lifestyle changes can result in significant weight loss and health improvement.

Yale New Haven Hospital offers free information sessions to provide potential patients with information about the latest advances in weight-loss surgery. Bariatric surgeons are available to answer all your questions: What types of surgery are available? Does it hurt? How fast will I lose weight? Will insurance cover the cost of the surgery? When can I go back to work?

Sessions are offered every month throughout the year in three locations: Guilford, Hamden and New Haven. If you are interested in learning more about weight-loss surgery or registering for a free information session, you can begin the process by filling out an information request form. For more information about YNHH’s Bariatric Center, call 203-789-6237 or visit the bariatric section of the website.

How do you know if you’re eligible for weight-loss surgery? A ratio of weight to height called Body Mass Index (BMI) is generally used to classify the degree of overweight. An individual is considered to have morbid obesity at a BMI of 40 or at 35 if health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or obstructive sleep apnea are also present. If your BMI is in this range, you may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery. Use this BMI calculator from the National Institutes of Health.

Free wallet medication cards available

When your doctor asks about your medications, do you remember everything you are taking? It is important that your healthcare providers have complete information about your medical history and all of the medications you are taking. Having your medication list in one place helps your physicians, pharmacists and healthcare staff take better care of you.

Yale New Haven Health offers a free wallet medication card to help you and your family members keep an accurate record of your medicines. Keep the card in your wallet, so it will be handy in case of an emergency. Bring it to all doctor visits, when you go for any medical tests and all hospital visits. Be sure to keep it up-to-date; add new items and cross out any medications when you stop taking them.

To receive a free wallet medication card, email [email protected] and include your name and address. Indicate your language preference (English or Spanish). Supplies are limited. Please allow three to four weeks for delivery.

We want you – and your dog!

Yale New Haven Hospital’s Volunteer Services Department welcomes energetic volunteers of all ages on the York Street and Saint Raphael campuses as well as satellite locations.

There are volunteer roles to fit individual time schedules, abilities and interests. Volunteers may work directly with patients or behind the scenes and impact nearly every area of the hospital. Here are just a few of the programs that need volunteers:

  • Our Pet Therapy Program offers patients staying on inpatient floors the opportunity to bond with certified, fully trained therapy dogs. Every therapy dog is accompanied by his or her owner/trainer at all times throughout the visit. Dogs and handlers can have an AKC Good Citizen certificate as a first step but must hold Pet Partners (previously Delta Society) or Therapy Dogs International certificate for acceptance to the program.
  • Smilow Cancer Hospital has a number of outpatient Smilow Cancer Care Centers located throughout Connecticut, where teams of clinicians care for patients with cancer. Volunteers work alongside staff to enhance and positively impact the patient experience, bringing compassion and service to the patients and families who come to Smilow for care. Smilow Cancer Care Centers are located in Derby, Hamden, Orange, Waterbury, Fairfield, Guilford, Old Saybrook, Waterford, North Haven, Torrington, Trumbull, Greenwich and Hartford; and Westerly, RI.
  • YNHH’s Foreign Language Visitation Program supports patients who speak languages other than English during their hospitalizations, helping to relieve feelings of stress and isolation that result from the language barrier. The program offers friendly, supportive visits provided by volunteers who speak the patients’ native language. Volunteers do not interpret; rather, they provide companionship and activities for patients and families.
  • Volunteer opportunities at Yale New Haven Children's Hospital range from reading to children in our busy Primary Care Center to interacting and playing games with the brothers and sisters of pediatric patients as part of our Sibling Program.
  • Additional positions are available in guest relations, the Emergency Department, the Heart Center, Arts of Healing, music visitation and more. Visit the Volunteers section of our website for more information. You can also call 203-688-2297 or request an application packet.

Yoga for cancer patients in Old Saybrook

Smilow Cancer Hospital patients can relax, renew and rejuvenate in a safe, soothing, supportive space with specially designed yoga classes held in Old Saybrook on Thursdays throughout January. The free class offers gentle poses and modifications, stretching and strengthening exercises, mindful breathing practices and systematic relaxation at the end of every class. No previous yoga experience is necessary.

Classes are held from 9:30 - 10:30 am on Thursday, Jan. 9, 16, 23 and 30 at Old Saybrook Medical Center, 633 Middlesex Turnpike, Old Saybrook. Free parking is available. Smilow patients should check with their treatment team before registering to determine if yoga is appropriate at this time. Register online (click on the desired date in the calendar) or call 1-888-700-6543.

Cervical cancer: Are you at risk?

Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer – and more than 4,000 American women die from cervical cancer each year. So what’s the good news?

Death rates have declined dramatically over the last 50 years because more women are being screened. Cervical cancer screenings can help detect abnormal cells early, before they turn into cancer. Most deaths from cervical cancer could be prevented by regular Pap tests and follow-up care, and a vaccine can help prevent human papillomavirus (HPV).

According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer tends to develop in midlife. Most women are diagnosed with cervical cancer before the age of 50; about 15 percent are older than 65. Early cervical cancer and precancerous conditions of the cervix have no symptoms.

What are the risk factors for cervical cancer? Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Other things can increase your risk, including having HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems; smoking; using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years); having given birth to three or more children; or having several sexual partners.

To learn more about cervical cancer screening, contact the Smilow Cancer Screening and Prevention Program at 203-200-3030 or email [email protected].

Call 203-200-4176 or learn more about the Gynecologic Cancers Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital, where the best medical minds come together to determine the optimum course of treatment for gynecologic cancers.

Referrals for physicians and surgeons

YNHH provides free information about and referrals to more than 2,600 affiliated physicians 24 hours a day. Call 888-700-6543 or visit our Find a Doctor feature on the hospital website for information on physician specialties, office hours and locations as well as insurance plans accepted. YNHH physicians represent more than 70 medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties, including internal medicine/family practice, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedics, pediatrics and psychiatry. 

Free blood pressure screenings

More than half of all Americans over 60 have high blood pressure — and many more are at risk of developing it, according to statistics from the American Heart Association. YNHH offers free blood pressure screenings at many community sites. Call 203-789-3275 for a list of locations and times or for more information.

Need blood work? We’re in your neighborhood

When your physician orders blood work or you need to schedule a blood test, Yale New Haven Health makes it easy with blood draw stations conveniently located in your community. No appointment is necessary and all major insurance plans are accepted.

Please note: A requisition form is required. Our blood draw stations honor requisitions from other labs.

Find a location that's convenient on this list of blood draw locations on our website.

What would you like to know?

Want to learn more about a particular health topic or service? Questions about classes and events at YNHH? We want to hear from you! Tell us what you like about Advancing Care or send suggestions for improvement or changes. Email us and let us know how we can better serve your health needs.

YNHHS patients:  Do you have MyChart?

MyChart gives Yale New Haven Health System patients secure, online, 24/7 access to portions of your electronic medical record (EMR). There you can see your medical history, most laboratory and test results, appointment information, medications, allergies, immunizations and other health information. You can schedule appointments with your doctor, request or renew prescriptions, see your billing and insurance information and send and receive secure, confidential electronic messages with your doctor’s office. Sign up by using the activation code on the after-visit summary from your doctor, request a MyChart Activation Code at your next appointment or visit the MyChart website and click “New User?”

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Make a lasting impact at YNHH

Help support the mission of Yale New Haven Hospital with a donation! Your contributions support vital programs, services and facilities within the hospital and help keep Yale New Haven at the forefront of innovative treatment. When you make a gift to YNHH, you are part of the advanced medicine and compassionate commitment that touch so many lives in our community.

Billing questions?

Yale New Haven Hospital offers financial counseling to patients and families. Spanish-speaking counselors are available. Additionally, evening sessions are scheduled once a month — the next two are Tuesday, Jan. 21 and Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 5 - 7 pm. To make an appointment with a financial counselor, call 203-688-2046.